The Spartans may not have ended up with the best recruiting class on paper. But in the end, Izzo was more than pleased with the players who signed.
Lourawls (Tum Tum) Nairn Jr. and Javon Bess both made it official Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period, by signing their binding national letters of intent to play basketball for the Spartans in the fall of 2014.
Izzo liked Nairn Jr., a 5-foot-11, 170-pound point guard originally from the Bahamas who attended Sunrise Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas. He compared him to former Spartan legends Draymond Green and Mateen Cleaves.
“Number one, he’s a true point guard that can run a team, but in watching him in the weight room and on the court, he might become like a Draymond Green or Mateen Cleaves of the world,” Izzo said in a statement. “He just has incredible, incredible leadership abilities. I mean people just kind of gravitate to him. He’s one of those guys that everybody just seems to like and respect because he works so hard.”
“He’s just kind of an infectious guy in a positive way. He gets everybody excited. He holds people accountable. He demands of himself and of people. He’s come from a tough area in the islands and because of that I think he has an appreciation for what he gets and what he’s got,” Izzo said.
Izzo also thinks highly of Bess, a player that he sees as versatile and being able to come in next season and earn a spot on the team.
“He offers the same thing that Tum Tum brings — the ability to fit into a system,” Izzo said.
The two-man class as it stands is, to some, disappointing after Izzo and the Spartans struck out on top recruits Cliff Alexander, Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, Kevon Looney, and others.
Losing those players did not deter Izzo and staff, and Izzo believes the rankings do not mean everything.
“Well I think the two things that happen in recruiting are, number one you get caught up in the rankings all the time and number two, there are guys who grow,” Izzo said.
There is still time for the 2014 class to grow too, with the possible departures of Gary Harris and Branden Dawson along with seniors Keith Appling and Adreian Payne graduating.
While there may not be anyone publically on the radar right now, few thought Gavin Schilling and Alvin Ellis III would end up being Spartans at this point a year ago.
The early signing period ends Nov 20.
Dan Ray is the recruiting reporter for Impact Sports.
Photo: David Defever